Media release 30/06/22
Politicians want the Integrity Commission to fail
This country’s Members of Parliament created the Integrity Commission so it would fail.
This was the decided view of economist and former Deputy Central Bank governor Terrence Farrell. “The Commission had been dogged by controversy from the very start,” he pointed out. “When that legislation was proclaimed, I wrote then that it was going to fail. I am not sure that our legislators had any good intent.”
Farrell was taking part in a discussion at Governance Week 2022, following a presentation by former Integrity Commission chairman Ken Gordon. Gordon had given a presentation titled “Recommendations to Improve the Integrity in Public Life Act” on the third day of the annual online event, which is hosted by the Caribbean Corporate Governance Institute (CCGI).
Politicians had bad intent
“Every single MP voted for the legislation,” said Farrell. “but they set it up in a way that it was guaranteed to fail.”
Gordon disagreed, saying, “I don’t think it was destined to fail, but I don’t think they thought it through.”
Farrell, however, argued that the MPs’ bad intent was shown by them undermining the Commission and any other watchdog body. “They create the Financial Intelligence Unit and where do they put it? In the Ministry of Finance,” he said. “Yet this is a body that investigates matters related to finance!”
Integrity Act needs to be changed
Farrell also noted that the Integrity in Public Life (Amendment) Bill 2014, prepared by the Gordon-led Commission, highlighted what was missing from the 2005 Act.
In his presentation, Gordon listed some of the amendments to the Act that had been submitted to Cabinet. These included means for enforcing the provisions of Section 5 (27/5) and Section 34 of the Act which give the Commission the power to:
- · authorise investigations
- · summon witnesses
- · subpoena persons
- · search and seizure.
Also recommended were whistle-blower provisions and arrangements for exchanging information between the Board of Inland Revenue, the Police Service, Customs, Immigration, and the FIU.
Farrell agreed with Gordon that the requirement for all members of public bodies to declare their assets to the Integrity Commission was counter-productive. “It’s a waste of time,” he said. “People refuse to declare and nothing has happened. The Cabinet has ignored the recommendations because it doesn’t want a strong, independent Integrity Commission with strong investigative powers.”
Our sponsors for Governance Week 2022:First Citizens Bank Our Gold Sponsor, Republic Bank Limited, our silver sponsor and three bronze sponsors JMMB Group Ltd, PwC and Angostura Limited.
From the Caribbean Corporate Governance Institute
Contact CEO Kamla Rampersad de Silva at 868-221-8707
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